Dabe Alan

PAR reviews the 2DS: Nintendo’s new hardware is missing a hinge and one D, still great

PAR reviews the 2DS: Nintendo’s new hardware is missing a hinge and one D, still great

If you want to have some fun, hand a child the 2DS and tell them that it folds via a hidden mechanism and they can have a cookie if they figure it out. My kids lasted about ten minutes before giving up.

The open-face design of Nintendo’s new portable always comes up when someone sees my review unit. They inevitably try to “close” it, as if all Nintendo portables must fold as part of the natural order of things. The 2DS puts both screens on a single open-face design. There is no hinge or mechanical aspect to the design to break or wear out.

This, combined with the $129.99 retail price of the hardware and the unit’s
comfortable plastic shell and bright colors, makes the system uniquely suited to the hands of children.

The lack of 3D is disappointing, but it’s not like the other models of the 3DS are going away, and I know plenty of parents that are worried about the effects of prolonged use of 3D on the eyes of small children. You could turn off the 3D in the original hardware using either the slider on the side or the parental controls, but now you don’t have to worry about it at all.

It’s rare that taking away a feature turns into a selling point, but again this seems to be hardware that is aimed at small children. I understand why parents enjoy the prospect of both saving money, and not having to worry about the issue at all.

Don’t expect many surprises out of the battery life, it matches what you’re used to with the 3DS. You’ll get three hours or so with brightness all the way up and playing online, and you can push five if you’re willing to dim the screen and turn off the WiFi.

What’s interesting is that it was widely reported that the 2DS actually used one large touch screen, with a piece of glass over the top portion and the plastic shell itself operating as a divider. I’m not quite willing to rip the damned thing apart to see for myself, but I told Oculus’ Palmer Luckey about the theory, and that man is something of a savant when it comes to screens.

He took his magnifier to one of the units, and said the pixel pitch was identical, and you can see backlight bleed on the top screen, but not the bottom due to the plastic shell. So it looks as if there really is one larger touch screen instead of two discrete screens, which is pretty interesting. Nintendo made a tablet, and then turned it into a DS form factor with the plastic shell.

There are a few things to get used to here and there, including the toggle at the bottom of the unit to turn Sleep Mode on and off. The reality is that this is an open-faced 3DS with one of those pesky “D”s having been removed. No more, no less.

Nintendo sent over New Super Mario Bros. 2 and Mario Kart 7 with the system, which are two rather fabulous games in general, and last night I hunkered down and ran the battery out playing both.

The system remained comfortable to hold during this particular marathon, the design proved functional, and my kids seemed to like it a little bit more than the folding designs of the past. It’s already been dropped once, and survived like a champ, but that’s not a test I would recommend repeating.

It’s hard to describe why the system is so attractive without handing it to you in person. Compared to the high tech fit and finish of competitors like the Vita and even iPads or iPods, it feels like a toy instead of a piece of consumer electronics. I mean that in the best way possible, the system screams fun when you pick it up, and the design and colors are inviting and light hearted.

The 2DS is easy to use, and non-intimidating. It doesn’t feel like it would be easy to break. Instead of sending off the message that I AM A SERIOUS DEVICE FOR PLAYING GAMES, it just kind of wants to be held and loved on. At $129.99 it’s also one of the least expensive gaming platforms on the market, and that’s going to be a huge advantage this holiday season.

Nintendo continues to be smart when it comes to their line of portables, and going for an inviting, kid-friendly, inexpensive design was a savvy move. This is going to be a big deal this holiday season.